I’ll be teaching chess classes for beginners at the Copperview Recreation Center in Midvale, with two classes scheduled to begin on Thursday evening, September 7, 2017. The cost is only $25 for the month (four lessons). Choose whichever class would be best for you: Early-beginner or mid-level beginner. For more information go here:
Trapezoid position in the queen-versus-rook endgame of chess
Four Major Types of Thinking by Masters
- MaCaTa – Calculating: possible mate or capturing or tactical themes
- Positional perspective: strategy
- Obtaining or maintaining an initiative
- Imagining what position might arise in the future
What is MaCaTa? It stands for mate-capture-tactic, three aspects of tactical thinking, generally in that order. I’ll not likely go into much detail on MaCaTa in the early-beginner chess class at the Copperview Recreation Center in September, but it’s likely to get more attention in the mid-level-beginner class.
White to move, what is best?
In the above chess position, what is the best that White can do? (See the answer at the bottom of this blog post.)
The first priority in chess thinking should be simple calculating, with the following priority generally best (MaCaTa):
- Is a checkmate possible in the position or likely in the very near future? (“Ma”)
- Is capturing possible now or in the near future, and with what consequences? (“Ca”)
- Is a tactical theme possible now or in the near future? (“Ta”)
Positional perspective: strategy
Many chess beginners may misunderstand the foundation of quality chess play, thinking that strategic principles need to be memorized to greatly improve to a post-beginner level. In reality, the following principles play an important role, yet they are not nearly as important as MaCaTa:
- In the opening, develop knights before other pieces like bishops, rooks, and queen.
- Control the center with pawns and/or pieces.
- Avoid doubled pawns, especially doubled isolated pawns.
- Castle within the first ten or so moves.
- In the middle game, put one or more rooks on one or more open or semi-open files.
Following at least some of the above suggestions can be helpful, at least sometimes. But calculating tactically is fare more important, almost always. Winning chess games is mostly figuring captures and tactical combinations better than your opponent does. That kind of calculating is extremely important.
The third and fourth types of chess thinking can be very helpful in advancing to become a chess master, but the first two, tactics, and basic strategy, are important in advancing to beyond the beginner stage of play.
Regarding the diagram “White to move, what is best?”
First look at any checkmate possibility. Notice that Qf7 immediately wins the game for White, for it’s checkmate. It would be far better to win immediately than to win your opponent’s queen or fork the opponent’s king and rook.
Derek Grimmell calls this the trapezoid, a key position in the queen-versus-rook endgame. Although it may look innocent enough, black has no move that does not quickly lose.
I have found a number of roads to learning to play chess on a higher level:
1. Join a chess club and compete informally against a variety of players
2. Read and study chess books, using the best methods of practice
3. Record each of your games, to later analyze both errors and good moves
4. Take private chess lessons from a qualified tutor (not necessarily a master)
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